It was a perfect game ... like it was drawn up by coach Frank Martin.
"When we play high-level games we need to have a third person scoring the basketball," said the Wildcat coach. "We're no different than any other team. It's very hard to win high-level games depending on just one or two players. You've got to have more balance." vIronically, in Saturday's 73-69 victory over Iowa State University, it was none other than Michael Beasley (15) and Bill Walker (9) supplying the balance as freshman reserve Jacob Pullen was the team's leading scorer with 19. It marked the first time since Nov. 25, 2007, that someone other than Beasley or Walker led the team in points. On that day, Andre Gilbert scored 22 to lead Kansas State to an 82-69 victory over Rider.
Since then, Beasley has led the team in scoring in 18 games, and Walker in four.
The 24-point effort by the Beasley-Walker duo was their season-low, slipping under the 27 points (Walker 14, Beasley 13) scored against Rider on Nov. 25.
"It doesn't matter who the guy is, but I understand that someone else has to score," said Pullen, who is the third leading scorer on the team, averaging 10.1 overall and 10.4 in Big 12 games. "Teams can't win with one guy, or just two guys, scoring the ball. We can't have teams giving Mike 40 and shutting down everyone else. We need a couple other guys giving Mike some help.""
Pullen, who also had two steals, one assist and no turnovers against the Cyclones, has a game that seems to go with his first two or three shots taken.
If a couple of them go in, he can be a scorer. If the first couple casts are clankers, "I try to set up other guys. I look for mismatches and try to get the ball to Mike or Bill."
Pullen's last eight games have included scoring games of 19, 1, 3 19, 1, 15, 8 and 16 points.
Whether scoring or not, Pullen is always trying to find the open man. He had seven assists when he scored 15 on Nebraska, four when he netted 19 on Texas, and six hand-outs when he scored just one point against Colorado.
Also credit Pullen in the fact that as a true-freshman, he only cares about minutes, but he doesn't care whether they came as a starter, or a reserve.
Glance at his statistics, and he's fairly balanced. In 15 starts, he's been in twin figures nine times; in 15 non-starts, he's been a double-figure scorer seven times.
In addition, nine of the plus-10-point games have been at home, while seven times he's been over 10 points in road games.
No one stands to be K-State's "X-Factor" in March more than Pullen.